Selling ‘climate heaven’

Monday this week saw the Climate Change – Has the Media Got It Right? debate, organised by One World Media and held in the Guardian’s offices.

In a panel of journalists, editors and communications officers, speaking to an audience of (mostly) journalists, editors and communications officers, it was the Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of communications agency Futerra, and Thomas Schultz-Jagow, Oxfam Communications Director, who made the biggest impressions.

Thomas spoke about the difficulties of getting the press to cover the human impacts of climate change that were happening now, and said he wanted to “take broadcasters along on a journey”, to give them Oxfam’s perspective on effects in countries such as India. With a phase that was much used throughout the evening, he said climate change news “is not sexy enough”.

Solitaire presented a perfectly PR-packaged idea on how climate change solutions should be presented in the media. She said currently we are “selling climate hell”: trying to motivate people to change their lifestyles through threats of distant catastrophes.

A better solution she claimed, was to “sell climate heaven”, in that we need to package environmentally-friendly lifestyles as fashionable, healthier, and more desirable.

In this clip which I recorded with her after the debate, she explains what Futerra does, and what she thinks the media should be doing.

Solitaire Townsend by harrietvickers

It’s an appealing vision, and certainly anything which can reach people as yet little-inclined to change their lifestyle for the sake of the planet could be a help.

But it is just me, or does this commercialisation, glossing and potential trivialisation of the issue leave anyone else cold?

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1 Response to “Selling ‘climate heaven’”


  1. 1 Linda Rooney July 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    It is not “just you.”

    It is never a good thing when a company, political party, movement, or individual can convince the media to manipulate the facts to suit its particular agenda, rather than simply deliver the facts objectively and without bias. However, an increasingly sophisticated and media-savvy public has become wise to this bullsh*t and are resisting these manipulated messages, doing their own investigations, seeking out alternative research and points of view, and drawing their own conclusions – and this is what pisses these people off more than anything. They are no longer able to control the message, thanks in large part to the Internet (and how ironic that Al Gore has taken partial credit for its existence)…

    As a result, what used to be called “mainstream media” is becoming less and less relevant to the average person and will continue to lose credibility until its ultimate demise. So-called “average people” will not be marginalized by the so-called “elites” – the emperor no longer has any clothes. It’s a movement that cannot be stopped – the empowerment of the individual to uncover the truth, not as “they” would like it to be, but as it is.

    Futerra is on the wrong track. Pity they don’t realize it yet.


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